Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tyrone Reid's review

Review of Souldance by Tyrone Reid from

The endearing photo of two youthful angels on the cover of Souldance: Poems & Writings (Ian Randle Publishers, 2009), Jean Lowrie-Chin’s astonishing debut collection of her columns, prose and verse, is an excellent indicator of the nature of the book’s content. Touching, sensitive and captivating, Souldance is brimming with universal themes of love, family, community and struggle. The care and quality with which Lowrie-Chin crafts her pieces equally appeals to readers.

captures the work that has flowed from the pen of one of Jamaica’s recognizable public relations professionals and newspaper columnists for nearly 30 years. Lowrie-Chin’s affection and concern for her homeland, the inimitable bond she shares with relatives and her thoughts on life and humanity are showcased through sterling prose and poetry.

Among the standouts that gripped me is “A Dad for All Seasons,” a moving account of the life and legacy of J.E. Lowrie, the author’s accountant father who we are told took his last breath (he died of an arthritic condition) in 1977 while whispering prayers in the company of his darling wife.

While shedding light on a rich family history, the piece also powerfully captured a striking father-daughter bond. “Dad threw himself into the role of father with a gusto that I have rarely seen in biological fathers. Every Saturday was library day, and after we carefully selected our books, we would be taken to the old Oxford Pharmacy for ice-cream. No wonder we all went into communications – he made the written word sweet for us,” Lowrie-Chin writes. Her ‘daddy tribute’ is a perfect companion piece for “My Mother’s Working Love,” a salute to her mother, Maisie Lowrie, now in her eighties.

Meanwhile, selections like “Jamaica: Treasure Island,” “Best of Times in Beijing,” and “A Vision of our Men at Risk” illuminate Lowrie-Chin’s devotion for her island home and her tirelessness in championing our people. Her poetry, written mostly in free verse, is peppered with truisms and her reflections on an existence too many of us take for granted. In “Let’s Fly,” for example, she observes, “One day it hits you/You know the bitter truth/That nothing lasts forever/Especially your youth.”

She’s also not afraid to take a proper look at the woman staring back from the mirror: “Thirty grabbed me round the waist…in thirty’s twirl I found no time for bitterness or regret.” (from “Thirty”) or feel like a girl again, enveloped in the love of her beloved husband, Hubie: “Now the poinciana through the window/ Is beautiful again/And Neil Diamond sounds sexy again/And I can understand a sentence/Without reading it again/I can smile in the dark/You love me…/Again.” (from “Again”).

At a modest 170 pages and split into three sections, Souldance is a valuable and breezy read. My only quibble? The poems could have been interspersed throughout the book instead of packed to the front to make for a more balanced arrangement. But that takes away nothing major from the overall enjoyment of Lowrie-Chin’s writing. As it is, Souldance chronicles the experiences and ideology of a woman, a “breathless messenger” intensely in love with God, family and country.

'Pick-Up Time' from Souldance

The day is looking positive
Our profits set to climb
But already I am counting
The hours
To pick-up time.

I know you’re very important
This gourmet lunch divine
In spite of that I’m counting
The minutes
To pick-up time.

I’m really glad you called to say
The contract is now mine
But I must confess I’m dashing
It’s seconds
To pick-up time!

My children rush to get front seat
Their laughter is sublime
Freeze the moment
Stop the clock …
I live for pick-up time.

© Jean Lowrie-Chin
October 2001

'Souldance' supports Food for the Poor 'Save me a Seat' campaign

Photos courtesy of William Beard Jr

Father Burchell and Msgr Mike try out the sturdy desk-chair units being offered by Food for the Poor. Jean Lowrie-Chin, fellow Board Member, donated proceeds from the sale of her book 'Souldance' towards purchasing some of the units.

FFTP Chairman Fr Burchell McPherson, Board members Msgr Michael Lewis and Jean Lowrie-Chin, with participants in the readings (l-r) Dwight Richards, Hubie Chin, Etmour Williams, Ruth HoShing, Boris Gardiner and Molly Brown, head of the Stella Maris St. Vincent de Paul Society and Chris McDonald

Boris Gardiner sings for support of 'Save Me A Seat Campaign'

Reading and Signing at Alpha - my alma mater

Presenting copies of 'Souldance' to the Alpha Academy Library in the presence of the legendary Sister Mary Bernadette who is lauded in two chapters of the book: 'Alpha: The Power of One' and 'Growing up as Royalty'

Review by Barbara Blake-Hannah


, Poems and Writings by journalist and PR guru Jean Lowrie Chin (Publisher Ian Randle Publishers) attracted me primarily because of the lovely cover illustration of two dreadlocksed black cherubs draped in Red,Gold and Green banners. Jean is not shy to bare her life and her soul in her poems. Two of my favourites are her amusing “My Chinaman Jumped to the Riddim of Jah” that speaks of her Chinese-race husband enjoying his total Jamaican-ness, while ‘Pick Up Time” tells of the joys of collecting her children from school, children adopted from “… those nameless ladies, through whom the good Lord sent my babies.”

Half the book contains poems in both English and Jamaican, while the other half contains selected essays from her years as a newspaper columnist. Jean’s writings began as an Alpha schoolgirl and continue even as she steers the media campaigns of Jamaica’s biggest corporations. This is one of those books worth adding to the collection of Jamaican literature.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

From SOULDANCE - 'A Flowers Fi Di Dread'

I joined the long procession to pay respects to Bob Marley as his body lay in state in Jamaica’s National Arena

“Righteous! A flowers fi di Dread!”
The man salutes
My ribbon-tied rose
As we inch towards the Arena
Sun hot, heart warm
One love for Bob.

Steps slow to the beat
Of the mournful drums
Chests heave, eyes mist
To see our sleeping star
Still – too still
With his silent guitar.

A gentle man puts the rose
Intensely red
beside the Dread.
Jah give
Jah taketh away
Jah live.